Goodluck Jonathan Metuh refuses to pay ex-president N1b to testify in his fraud trial

Metuh prayed to the court to dismiss Jonathan's premature application.

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan play

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

(Punch)
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Former National Publicity Secretary of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss an application by former President Goodluck Jonathan demanding to be paid N1 billion to appear as a defence witness in his money laundering trial.

In an application filed before Justice Okon Abang on Monday, October 30, 2017, the former president argued that the money will be used to cover travelling expenses for himself and his security personnel, from Bayelsa State where he resides. He also mentioned that failure to provide the money means he'll refuse to appear before the court as provided by the constitution.

His application is a response to a subpoena filed by Metuh requiring the former president to appear as a witness in the ongoing trial.

Olisa Metuh play

Olisa Metuh

(Punch)

 

During the resumption of the hearing on Wednesday, November 1, Metuh prayed to the court to dismiss Jonathan's application which also seeks to entirely set aside the subpoena demanding his presence in the witness box.

In his application on Monday, Jonathan's first prayer to the court sought to set aside the subpoena as he argued that he had no direct link with Metuh and has no knowledge of the charges the defendant is facing.

During Wednesday's hearing, his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), insisted that the former president is reluctant to appear before the court because the evidence sought to be obtained from him would amount to an invasion of his privacy, and family life.

He argued that the subpoena is an attempt to embarrass him as it could likely expose him to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.

Arguing against Jonathan's application, Metuh's lawyer, Mr Emeka Etiaba (SAN), said the monetary demand made by the former president is an attempt to frustrate the trial and should be dismissed by the court.

He said the application is premature because Jonathan was yet to be personally served the subpoena by the court bailiff as attempts to serve him last week had failed.

He said, "This application is therefore not only speculative but premature and deserves to be struck out.

"With respect to demand for deposition of N1 billion, the 1st defendant in his affidavit averred that he does not have such amount.

"We believe that such demand is punitive and meant to frustrate the 1st defendant's attempt at obtaining an evidence that will assist him in the defence of the charge against him before this court.

"It is the view of the 1st defendant that from the first day that he was arrested, he made it clear that the release of the money was authorised by the former President and was released by the former NSA, Dasuki.

"My lord this application simply seeks to set aside the subpoena and to save this nation the embarrassment of having a man who means a lot to the entire country as a former President, to step into the dock to give evidence.

"My lord it is unprecedented, and the embarrassment could have been aborted if the charge against the 1st defendant was not preferred after he had disclosed to the EFCC the source of the fund for which the defendants are standing trial.

"My lord in the circumstance, it is our position that this application be struck out."

Justice Abang struck out Jonathan's motion on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to entertain it as the former president was yet to be formally served with the subpoena as required by law. He said he could only object to the subpoena after he was duly served.

ALSO READ: Jonathan asks Metuh for N1b to appear as witness in fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, on a seven-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.

The alleged offence involved $2 million and N400 million which the defendants allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, in 2014.

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